[Sept 16, 2007]
After we made our descent from Mount Titlis, Paul told us he was going to bring us to 3 cities for sightseeing. He triple reminded us not to screw his schedule up again or else we would have ourselves to blame for missing out on 1 of the cities. Paul’s words sunk in, and today was the first time that we actually did not waste time lingering around longer than necessary.
First city we stopped at was Lucerne. The bus stopped very near to this monument that we were going to visit.
Lowendenkmal was built to commemorate the Swiss Guards that fought bravely (and was massacred) during that bloody French Revolution. I don’t know why, but when I saw this lion, I actually thought of Narnia. You know, that talking lion, Aslan?
And then we were brought to the waterfront to see Lake Lucerne.
I love this place! The lake is so lovely and serene. I could imagine myself living here someday. Imagination is good…
From the lake, we traced our way inwards. Lucerne is a city built on the mouth of the Reuss River.
There are many bridges across this river, the most famous one also being the one closest to the lakefront, the Kapellbrucke [Chapel Bridge]. This bridge is famous because there is a big tower on one end of it, called the Wasserturm [Water Tower].
It was not all guided walk here though. We were supposed to find our own lunch in Lucerne, so Paul set us off to roam on ourselves with an hour’s time limit.
We could’ve wandered around the streets, looking for food and more sights. But then, we decided that we needed to look for toilet, and the only place that we could think of that has public toilets, and were within sights, were this…
It was a very nice train station, much nicer and cleaner than the other one that we went into in Cologne.
We spent some time exploring the train station instead. We also got our lunch here. Well, I have to admit, lunch from train stations are much better compared to McDonald’s or Chinese restaurant dinners.
And then, the one hour was almost up and we scurried back to the tour bus. When we got back, everyone else was also just arriving. This was the first time that all of us were punctual, and we were able to leave for our next destination, on time.
Our next stop was Bern. This was a quick stop, we were basically just brought to this street called Kramgrasse [Grocer Valley]. It is sort of like the main street on the medieval town center part of the city.
It was on this street that I discovered that the Arsenal’s manager shares the same namesake as one of the Swiss army knives’ manufacturer. I was amused.
But that’s not why Paul brought us to this street. He brought us here to see two things. Thing number 1: Zytglogge. The Zytglogge was a multipurpose tower back in the days, it was a clock tower, guard tower, prison, civic memorial, and urban life center. Today it is just a tourist attraction.
Thing number 2: Kramgrasse No 49, Einsteinhaus.
This used to be where Leonardo da Vinci lived in. I’m telling you the truth here. Einstein is the Swiss name for Leonardo da Vinci. Trust me. By the way, trust me also when I say the Golden Gate Bridge is located not in San Francisco but in Kuala Lumpur.
There is another thing that we did see in Bern, but I could not find the pictures for it. It was a bear statue by the River Aare which Bern was built upon. Now the bear is a big deal in Bern. Legend has it, the founder of the city slain a bear when hunting in this area and decided to name the city after this animal. In the old Nordic language, bjorn means bear, and then somehow the name of the city became Bern instead.
Please don’t laugh at this story, especially Malaysians and Singaporeans. You know how we got our names, don’t you?
Anyway, that’s all we got to see in Bern before we were ushered back onto the bus to proceed to our third and last city.
Except that, the third city never happened. No, it wasn’t our fault this time. We did not drag our feet and delayed the schedule at all.
We were supposed to head to Lausanne, but halfway through the bus ride, this happened..
Yeah, the bus ran out of fuel, and we were stranded by the road side. Apparently, Steve (our bus driver) overestimated the bus tank’s capacity by a bit. The next service area where he planned to refuel was a few kilometers away. So, he left us on the bus and made his way to the service area, by foot. He made it back to the bus an hour later, poured some fuel into the bus, and got the bus moving again.
Except, the bus konked out again just as it entered the service area. This time, the bus refused to start again. Apparently running on an empty gas tank damages big diesel engine. In the end, the bus had to be towed away.
And we had to wait for a couple hours at the service area for a replacement bus to come and rescue us. By that time it was super late in the night, and we had to go straight to the hotel instead.
So, you see, Italy was kind of frustrating as a whole, but the last bits (Milan) made me feel better. With Switzerland, it was the other way round. Lovely, nice cities, but kind of ruined in the end.
And that was how our (tour) adventures in Switzerland ended, for the next day we would be heading to the final destination of our Europe Tour…